Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp 309–325

The Use of Mytilus Galloprovincialis Acetylcholinesterase and Glutathione S-Transferases Activities as Biomarkers of Environmental Contamination Along the Northwest Portuguese Coast


DOI: 10.1007/s10661-005-3854-z

Cite this article as:
Moreira, S.M. & Guilhermino, L. Environ Monit Assess (2005) 105: 309. doi:10.1007/s10661-005-3854-z


With the aim of using Mytilus galloprovincialis acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and glutathione S-transferases (GST) activities as biomarkers of environmental contamination in risk assessment studies along the northwest Portuguese coast, the objective of this study was to provide background information related to: (1) baseline values of these enzymatic activities both in reference and contaminated areas and their responsiveness as indicators of exposure to environmental contaminants; (2) the importance of seasonal variations of such biomarkers in M. galloprovincialis along this area. For this, the activity of these enzymes was seasonally determined in mussels collected from four sites, including a reference and three stations with different contamination sources along the referred area. Statistically significant differences on both enzymatic activities were found among the four sampling stations, at the four sampling periods. In comparison to the reference station, lower AChE and higher GST activity values were found in mussels collected in stations potentially contaminated by pesticides and domestic/industrial effluents and in mussels collected in the vicinity of an oil refinery and an industrial/mercantile harbour, respectively. The results obtained in this work highlighted the potential suitability of these biomarkers to be used as components of environmental monitoring programs in risk assessment studies along the northwest Portuguese coast. Since a seasonal variation in both enzymatic activities was found, the possible implications of such variability in the use of these enzymes as environmental biomarkers are also discussed.


acetylcholinesterase biomarkers biomonitoring coastal zone pollution , glutathione S-transferases mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis NW Portuguese coast seasonal variation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar, Departamento de Estudos de Populações, Laboratório de EcotoxicologiaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.CIMAR - Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e AmbientalGrupo de EcotoxicologiaPortoPortugal

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